Monday, July 20, 2015

From Ian:

UN Security Council unanimously approves Iran deal
The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the Iran nuclear deal and paving the way to lifting longstanding sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The 15-0 approval of the Iran nuclear deal clears one of the largest hurdles for the landmark pact, which will now go before the US Congress where it may face an uphill battle for confirmation.
The UN vote came shortly after the European Union approved the nuclear deal, okaying the pact between the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and Iran that lifts punishing economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for temporary curbs on nuclear activity.
Ambassadors from the so-called P5+1 touted the deal in a Security Council debate following the vote.
US Ambassador Samantha Power said the nuclear deal doesn’t change the United States’ “profound concern about human rights violations committed by the Iranian government or about the instability Iran fuels beyond its nuclear program, from its support for terrorist proxies to repeated threats against Israel to its other destabilizing activities in the region.”
She urged Iran to release three “unjustly imprisoned” Americans and to determine the whereabouts of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who vanished in 2007.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards: UN resolution endorsing nuclear deal crosses Iran's red lines
A UN Security Council resolution endorsing Iran's nuclear deal that passed on Monday is unacceptable, the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohammed Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.
"Some parts of the draft have clearly crossed the Islamic republic's red lines, especially in Iran's military capabilities. We will never accept it," he was quoted as saying shortly before the resolution was passed in New York.
Watch: Obama Eerily Echoes Clinton's Failed North Korea Deal Sound byte comparison shows
Not only has it been revealed that some of the very same American negotiators that sealed then-US President Bill Clinton's failed nuclear deal with North Korea in 1994 worked on President Barack Obama's similar deal with Iran signed last Tuesday - now it appears Obama even got the same speech writers.
The Washington Free Beacon on Monday released a compilation of public statements made by both presidents defending their respective deals, with an uncanny similarity noticeable between the two that would seem to bode ill for the Iran deal, given that Clinton's failed deal led North Korea to conduct its first nuclear test in 2006.
Clinton tried to get the Communist rogue state of North Korea to give up its nuclear program by giving it oil, nuclear technology and sanctions relief. Pyongyang took the benefits and ran all the way to a nuclear bomb, with Chinese experts warning it will have 40 nuclear weapons by next year.
As a result of the Clinton deal, North Korea was able to export nuclear technology to Syria and Iran as well.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Iran Deal Empowers Enemies of Peace
Hamas is only one of several radical groups in the Gaza Strip that have been receiving financial and military aid from Iran. The other groups include Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and some Fatah-affiliated militias. According to Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip, the Iranians have already resumed their aid to Hamas's military wing, Ezaddin al-Qassam.
Hamas officials hope that the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions imposed on Iran will lead to a dramatic increase in Tehran's support for the terror groups in the region. Thanks to the deal, Hamas and Hezbollah are once again working together toward achieving their goal of undermining moderate Arabs and Muslims and eliminating Israel.
"The Palestinian people will not surrender and we will continue with the resistance until the liberation of all of Palestine." — Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas leader.
Hamas seeks to ensure continued Iranian backing for its plan to destroy Israel, while at the same time joining the Sunni-led coalition and pretending to oppose Iran's rising power in the Middle East.
This deal has virtually destroyed any prospect of a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Martin Sherman: Iran- Reaping the storm that Barack sowed…
Barack Hussein Obama is the first US president who is explicitly and overtly unmoored, both cognitively and emotionally, from the moorings of America’s founding Judeo-Christian cultural heritage, and who genuinely conceives of Islam as not inherently opposed to American values or American interests.
A question of cultural affinity?
It is through this Islamo-philic prism that the Obama administration’s attitude to, and execution of, its foreign policy must be evaluated – including its otherwise incomprehensible capitulation this week on Iran’s nuclear program.
Almost two years ago, I wrote a column titled, “Will the West withstand the Obama presidency?” (11/28/2013). In it I warned: “For anyone who understands that the US Constitution is not a Shari’a-compliant document...
it should be alarmingly apparent that the Obama incumbency is a dramatic and disturbing point of inflection in the history of America and its Western allies... whose political practices and societal norms are rooted in Judeo-Christian foundations in a cultural rather than in any religious sense.”
There is little alternative explanation to account for the metamorphosis that has taken place in how the US has approached resolving the impasse with Tehran, as starkly laid out by two former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.
Netanyahu: Why would US compensate Israel for a good Iran deal?
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Israel on Sunday night as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated an unwillingness to speak about any “compensation” the US could provide to make Israel feel more secure after last week’s signing of the Iranian nuclear deal.
Netanyahu, in an interview Sunday on ABC, said there was much talk about compensating Israel.
The question that needed to be asked, the premier said, was, “If this deal is supposed to make Israel and our Arab neighbors safer, why should we be compensated with anything?” Furthermore, he said, “how can you compensate a country, my country, against a terrorist regime that is sworn to our destruction and is going to get a path to nuclear bombs and billions of dollars to boot for its terror activities against us.”
Carter is scheduled to meet Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Monday, and hold a press conference with him. On Tuesday, he is scheduled to meet Netanyahu.
Saudi Arabia and Israel Are in the Same Predicament
In the wake of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s respective situations have certain features in common.
That much is evident from the phone calls President Obama chose to make immediately after the agreement was signed. He opted to call Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, seeking to allay their concerns and promise them that the United States would ensure the their countries’ security.
For the Gulf States, the agreement evoked great apprehension. True, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates praised the deal, calling it a “historic agreement that could mean opening a new chapter in regional relations.” What truly reflects the sentiments of the Gulf States, however, is Saudi Arabia’s deafening silence.
A senior Saudi source, responding to the agreement in a briefing to CNN, used exactly the same language as Netanyahu: “The Obama administration has made a historic mistake.”
Iran Deal: Obama Just Sold Out an Ally, and It's Not Israel
India's Foreign Ministry and media welcomed the Iran deal, much as their counterparts in Western capitals did. But country's defence establishment and business community are raising their concerns about the newly negotiated deal with Iran.
Recent defence procurements show that India is preparing for a destabilizing Middle East. In the run-up to the Iran deal, India has been ramping up its missile defence capabilities, including building a comprehensive missile defence shield capable of intercepting a ballistic missile fired from a range of 5,000 km -- effectively covering the South China Sea and the Persian Gulf region.
India has good reason to be concerned about an Iranian windfall from its oil trade financing Shia militancy across the Muslim world. The Iranian ascendancy could intensify the Shia-Sunni fight for the control of political Islam and spill over into India's Kashmir region and beyond.
India's primary concern, however, remains neighbouring Pakistan.
As this nuclear deal sets a Shiite Iran on the highway to a nuclear bomb, rival Sunni-Arab nations are getting jittery about the prospect of living in an Iranian-dominated Middle East.
Report: Israel, Arab States Conferring Over Implications of Iran Nuclear Deal
Israel has been carrying out contacts with Arab countries to confer over the nuclear deal signed between world powers and Iran last week, U.S. based Arabic-language Al Hurra reported on Sunday, citing Israeli press reports.
According to the reports, the contacts are strengthening ties and rapprochement between various Arab states and Israel.
Israeli officials declined to comment on the reports, but Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, hinted to the establishment of a united Arab-Israeli front against the Iran deal.
Gendelman pointed out that Netanyahu has stressed on multiple occasions that the Iranian nuclear crisis has presented an opportunity for Israel to partner with its Arab neighbors in facing the common threat.
Netanyahu has also emphasized in previous public statements that Israel does not constitute a threat to its Arab neighbors, and instead should be considered an ally against the Iranian threat.
Senior defense source: IDF preparing for possible covert Iranian nuclear production
The IDF is seeking government commitment to a multi-year defense spending plan - a commitment that has been absent for the past several years - as it prepares to deal with the possibility of a covert Iranian attempt to break through to nuclear weapons production, a senior defense source said on Sunday.
The source said the IDF needs to assume that its most severe "reference scenarios" regarding Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and ISIS will come true, in order to correctly use the coming years to reshape the military, improve training, and make cost cutting reforms that include the shedding of 100,000 reservists and 5000 career soldiers.
The multi-year budget commitment from the government - absent for the past several years - will be necessary to reshape the military and improve training to meet those challenges while at the same time, implementing cutting reforms that include the shedding of 100,000 reservists and 5000 career soldiers.
Other proposed changes include military restructuring to create specialized war fighting and border security divisions that do not overlap one another.
Iran FM lashes US, Israel for sticking to military threat
Iran’s foreign minister on Monday criticized the United States and Israel for not taking the threat of military action against Tehran off the table following the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
The official IRNA news agency quoted Iran’s top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, as saying the military option remains a very hazardous idea.
“Applying force … is not an option but an unwise and dangerous temptation,” he said. Yet, Zarif added, “there are people who talk about illegal and illegitimate application of force” for their own purposes.
He called the nuclear deal reached last week a “victory of diplomacy over war and violence.”
Iran Dictator Calls for Muslim World to Unite and Destroy Israel, Says USA Created ISIS
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei went into a conspiracy-laden tirade on Saturday, blaming the “arrogant powers” for getting in the way of the Muslim world’s mission to unite and destroy Israel.
“If the Islamic Ummah were united and relied on their own commonalities, they would certainly be a unique power in the international political scene but big powers have imposed such divisions on the Islamic Ummah to pursue their own interests and safeguard the Zionist regime [of Israel],” Khamenei said in remarks to commemorate the end of Ramadan.
Khamenei also defended Iran’s support for its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, which is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, and the Assad regime in Syria.
“The Americans dub the Lebanese resistance as terrorist and regard Iran as a supporter of terrorism because of its support for the Lebanese Hezbollah, while the Americans, themselves, are real terrorists,” Khamenei said. Hezbollah was originally created by Tehran’s first “Supreme Leader” with the mission to “turn Lebanon to a graveyard for Jews,” according to its leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
German minister in Iran: We can’t accept questioning of Israel’s right to exist
Germany cannot accept Iran questioning Israel’s right to exist, a practice that could harm business relations between the two countries, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel warned at the start of a three-day visit to Tehran on Sunday.
He said Berlin would be willing to mediate between the two enemies.
“You can’t have a good economic relationship with Germany in the long-term if we don’t discuss such issues too and try to move them along,” Reuters quoted Gabriel as telling a gathering of German and Iranian business people in Tehran.
“Questioning this state’s [Israel’s] right to existence is something that we Germans cannot accept,” he said.
He said that with the deal signed and the two countries now able to forge closer ties, the time had arrived to discuss human rights.
Gabriel, who is also Chancellor Angela Merkel’s deputy and Germany’s energy minister, embarked on the three-day trip with a “small delegation of representatives from companies, industry groups and the sciences,” his ministry said in a statement.
The Iran deal as truth serum
I spent a few minutes googling this afternoon. I wanted to see who was in favor of the Iran deal and who against. It turns out that nothing is a better litmus test for one’s attitude toward Jews and Israel.
I left out people or organizations whose position was equivocal, like the Union for Reform Judaism and the Jewish Federations of North America. If Jews believed in the Devil, these organizations would have a hard time taking a position one way or the other on him, because it might be ‘divisive’.
So who are for the deal? The ones highlighted in red are those who can be reasonably called ‘Jew-haters’, who favor the deal because they see it as leading directly to dead Jews.
Also in favor are the terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the PLO. They also like dead Jews; in addition, they stand to benefit almost immediately from the massive infusion of cash they will get from the Iranians. This goes for Bashar al-Assad too, of course, who needs all the help he can get these days.
An interesting set of pro-dealers are what I call the ‘soft haters': J Street and Americans for Peace Now. They claim to be for peace and to care about Israel but they oppose anything that helps the Jewish state and favor anything that hurts it. I could have added commentators like Peter Beinart and Thomas L. Friedman to this group.
McFarland on Kerry’s Iran Inspections Claim: ‘It’s A Lie’
KT McFarland offered a blunt appraisal Monday of Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that the U.S. had never sought “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iran’s suspected nuclear sites.
“It’s a lie,” McFarland, a former State Department official for Ronald Reagan, said. “The reason anytime, anyplace inspections are crucial is because Iran in the past has cheated, so you really need ironclad inspections.”
“You think he was lying?” Fox News host Bill Hemmer asked.
“I think he wants this deal so badly he’s willing to stretch the truth around this,” McFarland responded.
Several of Kerry’s close confidants during the Iran negotiations, including Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, are on record earlier in the year assuring reporters that the U.S. would insist on “anytime, anywhere” inspections as part of any deal.
McFarland said the inspections process that the U.S. ultimately agreed to gives Iran the ability to stall inspectors for almost a month before they can visit a suspicious site.
“When the president said that we have 24-hour access to key nuclear installations, no you don’t—you have a 24-day period to request to look inside, and Iran has 24 days to say yes you can or no you can’t,” McFarland said.

CNBC Panel: Verification Program of Iran Nuclear Activity ‘A Whole Lot of Bunk’
CNBC’s Squawk Box panel and former Obama administration official Bob Hormats questioned the verification regime of the Iran nuclear deal Monday, with co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin calling the monitoring program “a whole lot of bunk.”
“Anywhere, anytime,” co-host Joe Kernen said sarcastically. “That’s what [Obama] told me. I can keep my health care plan, too.”
“That’s my biggest worry, that we will not be able to monitor,” Hormats said. “That’s my concern is the monitoring process, the access process.”
Hormats is the current Vice Chairman of Kissinger Associates and served as Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment from 2009 to 2013.
While Secretary of State John Kerry and other White House officials have claimed that “anytime, anywhere“ inspections were never part of negotiations, critics have pointed out that the 24-day period Iran has to stave off inspections does not mesh with President Obama’s promise that the world would know if Iran cheated on its obligations.

Obama on Iran Deal: 'I Welcome All Scrutiny'
In his Saturday weekly address, President Obama gave a three-point defense of his nuclear deal with Iran, explained that it is online for the world to see, and that he welcomes any and all scrutiny, promising no question is off limits (unless your name is Major Garrett and you asked about the four Americans left out of the Iran deal.)
It's not that Obama believes this deal is perfect, but without it, "we'd risk another war in the most volatile region in the world."
Because without this deal, there would be no limits on Iran’s nuclear program. There would be no monitoring, no inspections. The sanctions we rallied the world to impose would unravel. Iran could move closer to a nuclear weapon. Other countries in the region might race to do the same.
Obama said that many of the arguments against the deal are "dishonest" and "overheated." And to help America ignore those apparently disloyal voices, the president provided a rebuttal:
First, you’ll hear some critics argue that this deal somehow makes it easier for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Now, if you think it sounds strange that the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and some of the world’s best nuclear scientists would agree to something like that, you’re right.
AIPAC Mulling ‘Nuclear Option’ in Lobbying Against Iran Deal
According to reports, J-Street is prepared to invest $2 million in a campaign to support the Iran deal.
AIPAC will convene a special conference on Tuesday, July 28 and Wednesday, July 29, in DC, to discuss lobbying Capitol Hill, according to an invitation obtained by JPUpdates.
In an email to top donors and members, AIPAC announced on Sunday that its Board of Directors and National Council will meet in Washington “for important meetings and lobbying appointments on Capitol Hill.”
“At such a pivotal moment for the United States, Israel and our allies around the world, your leadership has never been more vital,” the email stated. “In the coming weeks, AIPAC will mobilize the entirety of our institutional resources in order to articulate our concerns about the agreement and secure a broad bipartisan vote in Congress to oppose the deal.”
Alongside these measures, AIPAC officials have been debating using their doomsday weapon, namely to campaign to unseat congressional Democrats who will vote in favor of the Iran deal, according to Walla, citing an anonymous AIPAC source.
Edwin Black: CUFI Christians Mobilize for Battle on Iran Deal
When the last plaintive shofar blast echoed through the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Policy Conference that took place in Washington on July 13–14, 2015, it was not the record attendance of 5,000 that marked a turning point for the 10-year old group.
Nor was it the several on-stage and pre-recorded presidential candidate interviews—from Jeb Bush to Mike Huckabee, conducted by Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal that will be most remembered. Nor was it the video salute from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, nor the blazing oratory of Presidents Conference Vice-Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein that prompted standing ovations.
Instead, it was the quiet 24-minute briefing by CUFI executive director David Brog and CUFI national leader Gary Bauer for a half-dozen national reporters conducted around a circular table in a small non-descript room that revealed the muscular new role for the CUFI community.
CUFI has spun off a ready-to-rumble NRA-style political lobbying arm called Christians United for Israel Action Fund. Its first mission will be to demonstratively oppose the controversial Iran nuclear deal now before Congress. Working independently of AIPAC, the CUFI Action Fund promises to deliver a partisan political punch from its national reservoir of 2.2 million fiercely supportive Christian Zionists.
Why It’s Okay to Talk about Chamberlain Right Now
There’s been a lot of talk lately proclaiming Barack Obama the second coming of Neville Chamberlain. The analogy may be facile, but it is not far-fetched. The accord just reached in Vienna, at best, only temporarily cools off Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The Iran deal will be remembered either as a masterful display of diplomacy or as a hopelessly naïve delusion.
Wishful thinking is not a sound basis for foreign policy. When it comes to Iran, the stakes are too high to gamble on good faith. Israel and Saudi Arabia have good reasons to worry. And when before have these two nations had anything in common?
Congress now readies itself for 60 days of peeking underneath the Persian carpet of this Iranian deal, while the President threatens to test his veto powers over congressional action.
Americans should be skeptical. Iran is not just a regional menace. Long-range missiles can erase complacency in an instant. The seeming vast distance on a map between Iran and the United States, in the modern world, can resemble a commuter stop. The days of trench warfare are over because there isn’t enough time to dig any of those trenches. Iran may end up convincing the United States that it needs its very own Iron Dome.
The devil in the details of this deal might very soon expose Iran as the true “Great Satan,” professing its need for nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, all the while chanting “Death to America” on its streets. Chamberlain, perhaps, is the right world leader to recall at this time. “Peace for Our Time” crossed the Atlantic in search of its cousin, “Hope and Change”—both sanguine slogans with the potential to explode like firecrackers in the hands of those who sign feckless treaties.
How Could We Have Known: The Jews Who Voted For Obama
Beginning in 2007, those of us who saw the writing on the wall, began campaigning against Obama. We knew he was bad for Israel from the things he said in interviews and from the people he hung out with, past and present. We posted articles that slammed him on social media and we lost friends for our insistent and incessant need to make our case: the one that would save Israel and Israeli Jews.
We knew he’d be bad for the Jews by the way he spoke about settlements and Islam and Iran in a 2007 interview with then editor of the Jerusalem Post, David Horovitz. At that time, Obama pooh-poohed, for instance, Israel’s need for secure borders saying, “Israel may seek ’67-plus’ and justify it in terms of the buffer that they need for security purposes. They’ve got to consider whether getting that buffer is worth the antagonism of the other party.”
We knew he’d be bad for the Jews because he associated with people like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright who was outspoken in his support for both the Jew-hating Louis Farrakhan and Hamas. During an appearance at Michigan State University on February 7, 2008, Wright explained the creation of the State of Israel as “a political decision made in 1948 to solve a European problem of European Jews by putting them in somebody else’s country.”
We knew he was anti-Israel because he was funded by Saudi Billionaire Dr. Khalid al-Mansour, an avowed enemy of Israel. It was al-Mansour who served as Obama’s patron, smoothing Obama’s way into Harvard Law School.
Former Iranian Hostage Lambasts Nuclear Deal: 'Worst Agreement I've Seen in My Life'
Well over 30 years after he was set free from being held hostage for 444 days by his Middle Eastern captors, Texan Rick Kupke is still saying the Iranian regime cannot be trusted.
In an interview with Texas’s Star Telegram, Kupke—who was the last of 52 American hostages to surrender to the Iranians back in 1979—slammed the nuclear deal which was recently agreed upon between Iran and the P5+1.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is currently under a 60-day congressional review, although it seems unlikely it will receive the 67-person vote required to override a presidential veto that many in Congress wish to attain in order to kill the deal altogether.
“This is probably the worst agreement of this kind I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Kupke told the Telegram. “I don’t know why they think the Iranians are going to abide by any agreement. They never have,” he said, evoking history. He continued, “I think it’s going to trigger a nuclear arms race… because everyone in the area is going to want to stay even with the Iranians as they violate the agreement.”
Historian: Timing of UN Nuke Deal Vote Diminishes Congress’ Constitutional Power over Treaties
The Obama administration’s plan to use a United Nations Security Council resolution this week to force Congress to approve the nuclear deal with Iran would “essentially [abrogate] the treaty power of Congress,” Walter Russell Mead, a historian and professor of foreign affairs at Bard College, wrote Friday in an analysis for The American Interest.
This is not likely to end well. President Obama was stretching both his Constitutional powers and his political mandate when he decided to short circuit the treaty process for one of the most important decisions that American foreign policy has taken in many years. There is precious little doubt that the Founders would have considered this a threat to the system of checks and balances they wrote into the Constitution. In modern times, presidential authority has expanded, largely because American foreign relations have become so complex and the world moves so quickly that it would be impractical to subject every significant agreement between the United States and other countries to the treaty process. But given the length of this negotiation process and the enormous stakes involved, the Iran agreement really ought to have been framed as a treaty. The President, to be fair, knew very well that he could never get a two thirds vote in the Senate for this agreement, and, believing as he does that this step is necessary to the safety of the United States, he framed the deal as an executive agreement to avoid exactly the scrutiny and vote that the Constitution requires.
Congress grudgingly went along with that, passing the Corker-Menendez law as a way of regularizing the President’s irregular choice. This tilted the playing field toward the President, as opponents would need a two thirds majority in both houses (instead of only a one third majority in the Senate) to block the deal for good.
Joel Pollak: Strategy: Where the Iran Deal Really Fails
The Iran deal is unquestionably weaker than the one the Obama administration had promised. As Eli Lake recalled Friday at Bloomberg, in 2013 “Obama said he would trade the dismantlement of sanctions for the dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program. Under the deal agreed this week, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure largely survives.” In addition, the inspections system is extremely weak, the so-called “snap-back” mechanism is absurd, and Iran will receive roughly $150 billion in relief, plus an end to the arms embargo and ballistic missile sanctions.
Clearly, Obama violated his promises to the American people. But the administration continues to argue that the deal is good. And there are some nuclear experts who agree, given certain assumptions.
Over at Vox–usually a reliable Obama cheerleader–one expert awards the deal an “A,” given that the longer the U.S. and world powers allowed the process to drag on, the bigger Iran’s nuclear infrastructure grew. That presumes that the pressure for a deal was on us, instead of on Iran–a presumption apparently shared by President Barack Obama himself.
Recall what Obama said during his testy exchange with Major (“Lt. Col.“) Garrett, when explaining why he did not link the release of four American captives to the deal: “Suddenly, Iran realizes you know what? Maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals.”
That implies that the Americans needed a deal far more than the Iranians did, despite crippling international sanctions. The reality was the opposite–though it seems Obama needed a deal more than America did, for personal and political reasons.
Israel nabs cell behind West Bank terror killing
Four members of a seven-strong Hamas cell behind a deadly terror attack in the West Bank last month have been detained by Israel, the Shin Bet security service said Sunday. Two others are being held by the Palestinian Authority.
Malachy Rosenfeld was killed, and three others were wounded, when gunmen opened fire on their car near the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, north of Ramallah, as they returned from a basketball game.
The cell also carried out an attack on an ambulance close to the settlement of Beit El on June 27, in which no one was wounded; they had attempted to carry out a separate attack on June 6.
The four men were detained in a joint operation between the Israel Police and the Israel Defense Forces, according to the Shin Bet. Two other cell members, including its operations leader, are being held by the Palestinian Preventive Security Services.
Palestinians freed in Shalit deal killed 6 Israelis since 2014
The suspected mastermind behind a deadly West Bank terror attack last month was among 1,027 Palestinian inmates freed by Israel in exchange for the release from Gaza of the captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.
On Sunday, the Shin Bet announced it had detained four members of a seven-member Hamas cell who allegedly opened fire on a car near the settlement of Shvut Rachel in June, killing Malachy Rosenfeld, 25, and wounding three others.
Rosenfeld was the sixth Israeli to be killed in attacks carried out or planned by Palestinians released under the Shalit deal since April 2014.
One of the alleged cell members, Ahmad Najjar, a Hamas operative who was said to have orchestrated and funded the shooting attack from Jordan, has yet to be apprehended, the security service said. Before being released in the Shalit prisoner exchange, Najjar spent eight years in an Israeli prison for his involvement in previous terror attacks that killed three Israelis.
New bill would double punishment for repeat-offender terrorists
New legislation seeks to double the punishment for any terrorist who returned to attacking Israelis after being released from prison.
Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) proposed the bill on Monday, a day after security forces arrested terrorists who killed Malachi Rosenfeld three weeks ago, who were freed in the 2011 deal to release then-captive soldier Gilad Schalit in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian terrorists.
Slomiansky said "this proves that there must be a deterrent against the terrorists who try again and again to deal in terrorism."
The bill also states that terrorists who are freed in a deal and imprisoned again cannot be released in future agreements.
Watch: IDF Chief of Staff Gantz in Hamas's Sights
The Al-Qassam Brigades "military wing" of the Hamas terror organization has published a new video, showing then-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz touring the Gaza border during Operation Protective Edge last summer - in a propaganda tool meant to indicate Hamas could have assassinated him.
Gantz is seen in the film through binoculars together with his bodyguards and additional forces, apparently near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha.
Hamas said that during the tour Gantz was in its firing range - leading to the obvious question why Hamas would have chosen not to take the shot, a question casting doubt on the veracity of the terrorist group's claim.
The Al-Qassam Brigades claimed that the documentation proves its intelligence capabilities, and its "readiness for any possible aggression."
Details of Israeli Farmer's Brutal Murder Revealed
General security services initially investigated the murder as a terrorist act, but later based on the testimony of the murderers changed their opinion and claimed the murder was criminal in nature.
The decision has angered Bar Kapara's family, which noted the inconsistency given that if the murder was a case of crime, the assailants would have stolen something - which they didn't.
Indeed, even though a vehicle at the scene was worth a hundred thousand shekels, and Bar Kapara was found carrying the keys and cash on his person according to them, the murderers took nothing.
The bereaved family further noted that the killers beat him long after he was incapacitated enough for them to rob him - and they noted particularly that the killers were in their early 20s, whereas Bar Kapara was 70, meaning they did not need to kill him in order to be able rob him.
That in addition to the fact that the murderers had a terrorist background led the family to condemn the police for covering up the terrorist murder.
How’s Hamas getting supplies for rockets and tunnels? Via Israel
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan ended on Friday, signaling the start of Eid al-Fitr celebrations for Gaza’s inhabitants. The faithful fasted from dawn to dusk each day for a month in the heat of June and July, not knowing what the future held for the Gaza Strip.
The members of Hamas did the same. They have received only a few hundred shekels instead of their full salaries for the past four months because of Hamas’s financial hardship. Full salaries are supposed to be paid out this month due to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s decision to resume transferring grants from Iran in light of his agreement with the P5+1.
Yet despite the hunger, heat and financial hardship, the hundreds of workers digging tunnels under the Israeli border, inside the Gaza Strip and on the Egyptian border, kept on with their labor. That they worked at a slower pace was not because of the fast. Hundreds of Palestinians, members of Hamas, continued building the network, including new attack tunnels to reach Israel in the next war and smuggling tunnels to Sinai. The problem they have encountered over the past few weeks, causing a slowdown in the pace of digging, is a severe shortage of some of the materials critically important for the tunnel industry.
Quite a few reports on these tunnels have been published recently in both Israeli and Hamas media. Some in the Israeli defense establishment have a working assumption that, a year after Operation Protective Edge, it is likely that Hamas already has one or more tunnels crossing the border fence and reaching inside Israel.
Hamas’s intense focus on its tunnel project can only bolster this assumption. Hamas is putting an enormous amount of effort, personnel and money into digging with heavy engineering equipment.
Hamas Demands Prisoner Release for Information on Missing Israelis
Hamas is demanding Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners as a condition for giving the Jewish state information about two Israelis who went missing in Gaza after crossing the border fence last September.
According to Arab media reports, Hamas will not budge on revealing information about Ethiopian-Israeli man Avera Mengistu or a second missing Israeli whose identity remains under a gag order, nor will the terrorist group enter negotiations on returning the remains of killed Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, if Israel does not free Palestinian terrorist prisoners.
The Palestinian prisoners in question were released as part of the 2011 exchange that secured the freedom of Hamas captive Gilad Shalit, but were later re-arrested by Israeli security forces.Al Arabiya reported that in a speech marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the group “will not speak with or give [Israel] a scrap of information before our people in Israeli prisons are released.”
Palestinians to EU: Suspend trade agreements with Israel to protest demolition of homes
Residents of the Palestinian village of Sussiya on Sunday called on the European Union to suspend its trade agreements with Israel to protest the pending demolition of unauthorized homes in their herding community in the South Hebron Hills region of the West Bank.
European support for Sussiya must be backed with action, the community spokesman Nasser Muhammed Nawajah wrote in a letter he sent to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
“Until today European support of the Israeli economy is expressed in the preferential conditions that Israel receives under its Trade and Association Agreements with Europe. The association agreement stipulates that ‘relations between the parties, as well as all the provisions of the agreement itself shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles’ and that this ‘constitutes an essential element of this agreement,’” he wrote
“In our opinion Sussiya is one example of how Israel continues to violate these principles and therefore we urge you to suspend Europe’s trade agreement with Israel as well as end trade with companies operating in settlements on occupied territories until Israel fulfills its obligation under international law,” he wrote.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad: Bombings targeting us designed to serve Israel's interests
Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Sunday threatened to hunt down and punish those responsible for a series of bombings that destroyed the vehicles of some of the groups’ military commanders.
The predawn explosions, which took place in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, destroyed at least six vehicles. No one was hurt.
The two group’s armed wings, Izzadin Kassam (Hamas) and Al-Quds Battalions (Islamic Jihad) denounced the perpetrators as “suspicious and hired tools,” adding that the explosions were designed to serve Israel’s interests and goals. The two groups stopped short of accusing Israel of being behind the attacks, however.
Although no group claimed responsibility for the bombings, eye-witnesses reported seeing graffiti by Islamic State taking credit for the attacks. Islamic State has recently issued several threats against Hamas.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Hamas denies sending fighters to Yemen
Hamas on Sunday strongly denied a report that claimed it has agreed to send hundreds of its men to Yemen to help in the fight against the Iranian-backed Houthis.
Hamas said the report, which appeared in the Iranian news agency Fars, was aimed at disrupting the “successful” visit of its leader, Khaled Mashaal, to Saudi Arabia.
Mashaal’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the first of its kind in three years, is seen as a turning point in relations between the kingdom and Hamas. Hamas officials have hailed the visit as a “huge success.”
According to the Iranian news agency, the Saudi monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, asked Mashaal to dispatch 700 Hamas fighters to Yemen to help in the fighting against the Houthis. The report also claimed that Mashaal asked the Saudis for $20m. in monthly aid to Hamas to enable it to continue managing the affairs of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Mashaal’s visit to Saudi Arabia came in the aftermath of the signing of the nuclear deal between the world powers and Iran. Some reports have suggested that Saudi Arabia is seeking, through the visit, to convince Hamas to join a Sunni-led coalition against Iran.
PreOccupied Territory: 2015 Class Of Palestinian Child Soldiers Looking Promising (satire)
Ghasseb Hatib hopes to be drafted in one of the first few rounds when Hamas and other Islamist militant organizations begin their recruitment this week for next season’s round of conflict with Israel, but he faces stiff competition. Thousands of Palestinian teens and preteens want their faces to adorn martyr posters, but only comparatively few will get the chance, and the Class of 2015 is shaping up to be a banner year for child soldiers in the Gaza Strip, recruiters say.
If Ghasseb, 14, makes the cut, he will join the select group of youths who attack Israeli soldiers with rocks, explosives, knives, or guns, daring the IDF troops to fire back – and if they do, to get accused of war crimes. Ghasseb sees himself as a soldier, not a civilian, and certainly not a child, but he is well aware of the tactical advantage his age and size give him in any such confrontation, and wants a piece of the front line action, where the glory and fame lie. He will have to prove his mettle when Hamas and Islamic Jihad scouts visit, or he may end up digging attack tunnels instead of directly confronting Israelis.
“I’m ready to give everything to rid Palestine of the usurping Jew,” says the brown-haired youth, the second of six children. “Just as my brother Muhammad did before me.” Muhammad Hatib, 16, was killed last summer when an Israeli patrol returned fire at his sniper position. Human rights organizations and the Hamas propaganda apparatus trumpeted his status as a child and a civilian, but Ghasseb knows that is merely a feature of a PR war, and not a genuine reflection of his family’s sacrifice.
“I want to continue in the noble path my brother followed, and with Allah’s help, I will succeed where he did not get the chance,” added Ghasseb. “I will kill every Zionist pig I see, and liberate my land with blood and fire,” he added, his voice cracking, whether from emotion or puberty.

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